Player Portrait: Goalkeepers

I hope all is well. This week I want to wrap up our series titled “Player Portrait” by taking a look at what we look for in goalkeepers. For me, recruiting goalkeepers is very challenging. It’s “hit or miss” when we go to tournaments and showcases as often times they may see very little action in a game, or the coach may decide to split the time between two keepers.

In my seven years at Franklin & Marshall, we have had four different starting goalkeepers. The first keeper was the prototypical 6’2″, very strong goalkeeper. The keeper who replaced him was much smaller, but was extremely quick and was a great shot stopper. The following two keepers were somewhere in the middle of the first two. They had good size, were solid, and rarely made mistakes. Despite their differences, three of the four were named 1st team all-conferences, and two of the four were named 1st team all-region. So, when it comes to finding a keeper, we look for a wide range of attributes. However, there are certain things we want our keepers to be able to do despite their differences.

  1. Distribution:  We love to see keepers that can make a save, stand up, run to the edge of the 18, and look to quickly throw the ball to a player on the flank. When a keeper is able to do this, teams can counter off of the opponent’s shots and corner-kicks.
  2. Passing: Keepers that are capable of passing a ball like a field player allow teams to play with an extra player at times. The team can play back to them and pass out of the back, even when being high pressured. To get our keepers comfortable with this, we keep them in the field in practice for passing and possession drills whenever possible.
  3. Kicking: Keepers that are able to hit long driven balls and punt/drop-kick a ball a long distance are a huge asset to a team. When a keeper can drive a ball 60+ yards, we will use that keeper to take long free-kicks from anywhere in our half and knock the ball into the opponent’s box.